The Chicago Bears made a flurry of moves when free agency opened up last month. The team filled some needs, but some of them can be considered short-term fixes. However, the strongest rosters are truly built through the NFLdraft. And after having only a handful of picks to work with over the previous two drafts, general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy have a little more draft capital at their disposal this year.
The Bears currently have seven picks, including a first-rounder (No. 20 overall) for the first time since 2018 (Roquan Smith, No. 8 overall). The reason for the lack of picks in recent seasons was because of trades, namely the deal that brought Khalil Mack to the Windy City three years ago. For the most part, the Mack deal has worked out, but the same can't be said about the Foles decision, which cost the team a 2020 fourth-rounder. This year, however, Bears fans are pleading with the team to make another trade.
Even with the signing of Andy Dalton in free agency, quarterback remains a position that needs to be addressed, and there are other holes on the roster that must be filled. The Bears could potentially package the 20th pick to move up and ensure they add a top-ranked player at a position of need. A handful of teams have already made moves to change their draft position, and teams such as Atlanta (picking fourth), Dallas (10th), and the New York Giants (11th) have been mentioned as teams that may be willing to move down. Pace should at least entertain a conversation with these teams to see what it would take to move, especially if he and Nagy want to increase their chances of keeping their jobs.
Here are four specific reasons why the Bears should seriously look at moving up the draft board.
1. They need a quarterback for the future
The one position that continues to elude this team has certainly reared its ugly head over the last few seasons. Mitchell Trubisky is gone, Foles didn't live up to the hype, and the Bears weren't able to convince Seattle to agree to a trade for Russell Wilson. The team signed Andy Dalton to a one-year deal, but he's 33 and hasn't posted a winning record since 2015. His stay in Chicago may be extended beyond this coming season, but he's clearly not the long-term answer.
So the Bears need to make a future investment at quarterback. Now, I don't see the team moving up into the top five picks where several quarterbacks are expected to go, but acquiring a top-10 pick is possible, depending on the offer and trade partner. Fans know that Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, or Justin Fields won't be coming to the Windy City (barring something unforeseen happening), but perhaps the Bears can put themselves in a position to draft Trey Lance or Mac Jones? If not, it seems a safe bet that Chicago will select a quarterback at some point before the draft reaches its conclusion. Whatever happens, the bottom line is that Pace and Nagy need to finally get this position right, as their jobs could very well depend on it.
2. They need help on the offensive line
The Bears' front five has dealt with injuries over the last couple of seasons, and the team recently parted ways with Bobby Massie, who started every game (64 total) during his five years with the team. James Daniels is coming off a season-ending injury, Rashaad Coward signed with Pittsburgh in free agency, new Bear Elijah Wilkinson has his own injury concerns, and second-year guys Arlington Hambright and Lachavious Simmons are still mostly unproven prospects.
Regardless of what happens in the draft with the quarterback position, Chicago has to do a better job of protecting its signal-caller. That's especially the case as long as Dalton (or Foles for that matter) starts. Oregon tackle Penei Sewell and USC guard Alijah Vera-Tucker are considered the best prospects at their respective positions and probably won't be around when the Bears pick, barring a move up the board. Rashawn Slater or Christian Darrisaw could be in play for Chicago depending on how things go, with Samuel Cosmi, Alex Leatherwood, Liam Eichenberg, Jalen Mayfield, and Teven Jenkins as the other tackles to keep an eye on in the first round. Slater (Northwestern) and Eichenberg (Notre Dame) are of particular interest given their local ties, same for fellow Fighting Irish guard Aaron Banks, who is likely to go at some point on Day 2.
3. They need more firepower at wide receiver
Allen Robinson II signed his franchise tender, but there's no guarantee that he'll stay beyond 2021. Compounding that is the fact that Anthony Miller will be a free agent in 2022; he has been mentioned as possible trade fodder as well. The team signed Marquise Goodwin in mid-April, but his production over seven seasons has been limited (2,323 receiving yards, 13 TDs), he's been bit by the injury bug a few times, and he opted out last season because of COVID-19 concerns. So he'll have some rust to work off once he takes the field.
Outside of Robinson, Miller, Goodwin, and Darnell Mooney, the Bears have mostly inexperienced receivers on the roster. Rodney Adams, Reggie Davis, Jester Weah, and Thomas Ives have never caught a regular-season pass, while Riley Ridley and Javon Wims have combined for just 374 career receiving yards. Chances are all of these guys won't even be on the roster come Week 1. If the Bears want to add another wide receiver, moving up could potentially put them in a position to grab Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith or Alabama teammate Jaylen Waddle, although it's probably unlikely. More realistic options could include Rondale Moore, Rashod Bateman, Kadarius Toney, or Terrace Marshall Jr. It's entirely possible that one of these guys would still be on the board should the Bears choose to stay put.
4. They need to find a replacement for Kyle Fuller
In a salary cap-driven move, the Bears parted ways with Fuller, a two-time Pro Bowl cornerback, in March. The team also cut Buster Skrine. Chicago signed Desmond Trufant in free agency, but drafting another cornerback to pair with Trufant and Jaylon Johnson, last year's second-round pick, wouldn't be a bad idea either. A trade may be necessary to snag former Alabama standout Patrick Surtain II, while Caleb Farley, Jaycee Horn, or perhaps Greg Newsome II (Northwestern product) could be options.
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He can also be heard on WGN Radio. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.
(Top photo courtesy of @ChicagoBears)